Camping Weekend

I met up with my family for a camping excursion last weekend. The first day started off nice… we had a good chicken dinner and some cold drinks. Then all hell broke loose. In the form of weather. My parents stayed in their RV while my sister A and her dog slept in one tent and R & me in another. If someone had told me that we were actually sleeping in a thundercloud, I would’ve believed them. It was very scary. I felt bad for my sister who is a self -admitted non-tent camper. We were afraid she’d never come back.

When we ate breakfast the next morning, we each had gone through waves of panic through the storm. My mom thought a tornado would go through, my dad swore he heard a mud slide happening, and I waffled between lightening striking a tree onto our tents if a flash flood didn’t hit us first.

The next day, we braved the muddy paths and hiked around the area. At one point while waiting for us outside the visitor center, my mom (in her sunglasses) had both the hiking stick and the dog beside her. She laughed at herself wondering if people that passed by thought she was blind.

3 blind mice
A says her dog looks down in shame b/c of the type of leash she has to wear.

Midway through our hike, we ended up at a pond that offered paddleboat rides. We buddied up and spent the next half hour paddling around looking at turtles’ heads popping up and avoiding going over the waterfall’s edge. R swears we wouldn’t have gone over, but I’d rather not confirm that.

We took a little rest at our campsite for lunch and staring at other campers, when we decided to go for a horseback ride.

My friend K will be happy to know that I am completely over my horse-riding phobia. R and I would even hold our horses back every once in awhile to try and get them to trot. That’s how far along I’ve come. If you don’t remember, while studying in Spain with my then roommate K (back in 2002), we took a horseback ride through the Andalucian mountains. Little did we know that our horses were the only two that didn’t like each other. So as we were gingerly walking on the veeeeeeery edge of the mountain’s path, my horse got all up in K’s horse’s business if you know what I mean. Well she didn’t like that very much and tried to buck at me. My horse did the only logical thing possible — she ran down the side of the mountain. I can still remember ducking under a tree branch and zig-zagging between boulders. K will back me up on that. Eventually she stopped and one of the guides had to run down (on foot) to lead us back up. You can see a pic of me on that horse here. I was all smiles, so you know it was a “before” photo.

After that experience, R and I went to Park City, UT for our honeymoon and I took my first step in conquering this fear. I was stiff, but the overall experience was enjoyable. I’m now to the point where I’d like to ride bareback behind William Wallace in an open field. (Can you tell I just watched Braveheart last night?)

A had her own scary horse story way back from Girl Scouts. She did a good job considering she hasn’t ridden since Girl Scouts, but I don’t think she’ll be riding again for awhile.

Afterwards, we rewarded ourselves with a little steak and dominoes. Luckily the weather was not as bad Saturday night and we managed some good hours of sleep. It was so nice to be outside with my family all weekend. My type of outing.

I’m not surprised.

R and I went to Topeka last weekend for our friend’s housewarming party. This photo encapsulates what my friends have to put up with.
  • New hairstyle = awkward conversations regarding everything about me except my hair. I try my hand at self-deprecation, but end up liking to watch them writhe in pain as they look me over.
  • The refusal to change out of a shirt soaked by a water balloon, thus making it seem to all new-comers to the party that I have been sweating profusely.
  • The underarm stain confirming that I sweat profusely.
  • In an attempt to reduce extra inches on my upper arm, hold in a way that enlarges my elbow to twice the size of my head. And I’ve got a big head, my friends.
  • When given the task of making queso, somehow drop dangling jewelry into it. When someone almost chokes on it later in the evening, I mutter “Who made that dip? What a loser” and then look at someone accusingly.
All in all a good weekend. More to come.

A Weekend Outdoors, Pt 2

Okay, just thinking about this post wears me out. Here’s an overview: we left at 11am for a leisurely bike ride and didn’t make it home until 3:30pm. Ouch.

I had read a while back that the next town over had some good trails and since we were only a couple miles away, we went for it. Didn’t realize we’d have to snuggle up to cars on extremely busy roads, who were surely shaking their heads at us for not wearing helmets. R abhors helmets. Come to think of it, we never wore them growing up either. Well, this ride scared him enough to detour off and buy some at Tarjay. You can barely see it off in the distance. On the plus side, as we were riding towards the store, we passed an entrance to one of the trails.

After we were properly secured, we started off — Curving through woodsy areas, breathing in honeysuckle, enjoying the sunshine….

…and all of a sudden, you’re right by Wally-World. How did that happen? Oh well, at least we have helmets on. The ironic thing is, almost every person we passed did not have on helmets. That made R turn around and shake his fist at them & then try to throw his into every creek we passed.

At one point, we got lost (note to self: research trail routes before actually getting onto bike.) and I watched R merge right into one of the busiest streets in Northwest Arkansas. I managed to veer off to the right before I did the same, and couldn’t help taking a photo of him trying to get back to safety. I could hear him yelling at me to not take a photo. Neener-neener.

As we blew by an open field (ah, there’s nothing like going downhill as fast as you can), I caught sight of a flower. It’s one that was in my wedding bouquet so I had to take a snapshot. I was kind of dismayed to see that it was amongst all weeds — hey, we were on a budget — but I loved it anyway.

We ate a picnic I packed and stopped by some waterfalls. I cannot describe how beautiful a day it was outside. If it had been any hotter, I think I would still be out somewhere on that bike trail, passed out in a field… but that cool breeze really helped push me along. I could hardly sit down Monday and Tuesday, but that’s okay, it was worth it.

How does my helmet look?

Bipolar Scavenger Hunt

My friend, J, turned 29 this past weekend. So, in the spirit of her 20s, she threw a 1920s party/scavenger hunt. I was stoked. It’s like mixing Halloween with Easter and sprinkling a bit of Dance Party USA on top. R and I spent the week prior trying to find cheap accessories and ended up using a lot of stuff we already had, which always makes me happy.

We got ready over at N’s house. I’m not used to being boxed out in a bathroom, but I had to throw some ‘bows to see the mirror with these guys around. But I thought they both looked great! … with their pencil-thin mustaches and dapper suits. We were ready to go.

three amigos

I was the first to enter the party, and noticed that basically we and the host were the only people dressed up. For a split second, I thought it was a joke on us, just to see if we’d show up like this. Well, we embodied the reverse snobbery of looking at them like they were crazy. I mean, come on! Be silly!

So J had the good idea of splitting up the teams herself in order for people to get to know each other. Then, at the after-party, we wouldn’t cling to our normal groups and would mingle more. Genius. So she grabbed a microphone and announced the teams. N and I ended up being in the same car. I was both excited and scared. The last scavenger hunt we were in, I was the driver, and well.. let’s just say I shouldn’t drive in day-to-day life, let alone in a race competition. Poor J had started off in the front seat and eventually had to move to the back because she didn’t want to actually see the moments before she died.
None of the people in our group had a car, therefore we didn’t have a driver. J had to call her friend to come over and as soon as he opened the door, we shoved him back down the porch steps while introducing ourselves. Turns out he drove a two door, very small, very tight car. There were five of us. I closed my eyes and jumped in.

Now this is where we started riding the emotional waves. We had such high hopes in the beginning. If we had interpreted the clue correctly, we would have ended up only a few blocks away at a landscaped waterfall area. Nope, A (the driver) and I found ourselves running a quarter mile down an overgrown dirt path with zero light. Eventually we decided this wrong and turned back around. Where did we go next? Well, a car dealership. You know, they have landscaped corners. (???) The clue also mentioned that we would look for our next ORANGE clue at the destination. Well, what did we find? An orange truck! Under the truck was a fake tree inside a cardboard box. That must be it! We parked the car, grabbed the box and started tearing through it. Uh, no. There were car parts in it. And we could just start to hear the faint sound of police sirens trying to find 5 kids hijacking a car dealership. We were sad. But mostly because we realized that we should never be detectives.

happy, then sad.
Eventually, we found the right place and based on the two envelopes remaining, decided that two other teams hadn’t arrived yet.


We grabbed our bag and read the next clue which involved finding addresses of certain locations and using those numbers in a math equation. Okay, only I was sad about that. Hey — I’m a language major, leave me alone. We found out that one of our teammates was actually in law enforcement and used his connections (i.e. 9-1-1) to call dispatch for those addresses. We laughed so hard when the first thing that came out of his mouth was “Hey — it’s so & so. I’m off duty right now, but could you give me the address to Priscillas?” Is this where our tax money is going?? We were happy, though.

After a few more clues, we got stumped. It was a crossword puzzle that spelt out the next destination. One of the words we figured out (but only after I swore everyone was wrong — I hate when that happens) was ‘Daddy’. A few blocks down we saw a sign that had the word Daddy in it…and even though the second word didn’t match up, we still went in. No one could figure it out, so I bought a round of drinks. N was not happy with that. He wasn’t sad either. He was mad.

This was at the height of N’s anxiety. He was furious and when we finally figured out the second word (“Cakes”) he ripped everyone in that small little car a new one. You would’ve thought the market had just crashed or something.


This is a fast-forward (Amazing Race lingo, sorry) to the next day when I made N take a blood pressure test. He ended up being in the Hypertension category. I took mine and I was in Pre-Hypertension. I blamed it on N’s yelling the night before.

After heading to a couple more destinations, we arrived at a movie theatre and saw that, even though we thought we were last, there were still 2 more clues at the site…. indicating that more people were behind us. Happy!! We weren’t last!!

We were on a really big high when we showed up at the end. We walked in and saw…

everyone else from the party.

We were last, by about 45 minutes. There were just extra clues at every spot. Everyone laughed at us.


cheer up charlie
We ended the night hanging out a friend of J’s house. We intermittently checked on N to make sure he wasn’t going to do bodily harm on himself. R hung out in non-1920s chair most of the night. We had driven in from Arkansas and were pretty beat from the emotional roller coaster. I thought his outfit was cute though. He brought his bowler hat that is technically from 1931. No one noticed the faux pas.

I won best outfit though.



We got lost not once on Little Corn, but twice. TWICE. You can walk around the island in about 35 minutes, but that didn’t stop us from wishing we had a GPS system. When we hopped off the panga, we got general directions on how to get to Carlito’s, which was my first hut choice. In my first blog post, way back last year, I alluded to the fact that I am a planner. Not laid back at all. So when I called Carlitos this past summer to “reserve” a hut, the woman that answered kindly laughed. Really hard. She kept repeating the year in which we would be arriving. Was 6 months too far in advance? Guess so.

So even before lying on a beach for 7 days, I was already thrown into nonchalant mentality… even if I had to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

We took the directions given to us and started down the main road, which in reality is a sidewalk (no cars are allowed on the island.)

After taking a few wrong turns and asking everyone we passed where the huts were, we finally made it. We snagged only one of a couple available.

There were constants that we noticed happening daily throughout the week. For one, I never brushed my hair. Secondly, we talked about food nonstop. Where shall we eat today, what shall we eat, wasn’t that meal good, can’t you just wait until tomorrow’s meals, why can’t tomorrow come more quickly, etc etc etc. Food was the surprising star of the trip.
More on that later.
Some other constants were:

Waking up to the sound of waves and watching the sun rise.
R washing the one shirt he wore all week.
After reading for a couple hours, taking a dip in the sea.

Lying in our netted bed to read while our sunburnt skin healed.

And lastly, playing Boggle every night after dinner (Can you believe I brought that in my carry-on? It made me giggle to myself). R was great competition and I don’t think I won once.

Another pastime was walking. and walking. and walking. We went everywhere on that island …trying to find coves to snorkel and relax by. The jungle we walked through was absolutely gorgeous though. And because of the small dirt paths, it felt like you were the only ones on this little place.

A random sand volleyball court.

R and I noticed a pattern in how we walk. I always look up and he always looks down. I can’t help trying to soak in everything around me, and R can’t help being practical with everything around him. One time, as normal, my eyes were to the sky and his were to the dirt. Thank goodness too, because I almost stepped right on a boa. I’m not exaggerating here. R screamed at me and pulled my arm back before I did.

Another day, we decided to head to a lookout tower. And yes, we got lost. We were cutting through random people’s yards when a father & son duo helped us out. We were probably walking all over their garden or something.

We finally made it and my heart palpitated a bit. Does anyone remember when R, his brother, and I went up the one in Arkansas? I think back and wonder why I was so scared. At least there were actual landings to brace yourself there. I forced myself up this one and was so glad I did.

I was gripping the pole with all my might. Notice my hair.

I mentioned how much we enjoyed the food. There was so much to choose from (and really, at the same time, not so much. It was pretty much the same food, just different preparation styles). My favorite snacks were the ‘pan de coco’ (coconut bread) and cinnamon bread. Children would go from hut to hut with their freshly baked goodies and we’d gobble them up (the bread, not the children. Although, from the look in my ravenous eye I’m sure they thought I lived in a gingerbread house back home.)

R discovered french toast all over again, with coconut syrup drizzled on pan de coco. It was a crowd pleaser and we got excited just thinking of it when we woke up in the morning. Good food does that to ya.

Our last night in LCI, we splurged and bought some of our favorites. The lobster, fish, and shrimp platter. The cook brought her husband over to double check her english skills, because she didn’t believe that we would order so much. We did and we loved it.

We said goodbye to LCI and made our way back to BCI for our flight home. We had met some interesting people while vacationing, a couple of whom we ran into again before we flew home. Up next: Searching for the soul of the world on Big Corn Island.

Nice outfit

Our neighbor (a guy our age) came by to drop off a movie he burned for us. Ryan answered the door and then after closing it, realized what he was wearing. A cow shirt coupled with snoopy pajama pants. A golf outing is in limbo because of this, he’s sure of it.

Tomorrow we are headed on vacation for the next week. I’ve pre-loaded some posts that I haven’t been able to get to yet. We’re excited to sink our toes into some Little Corn Island sand asap. However, we have been unable to reserve a hut because none of the phone numbers work. So, the sand just may be my bed too. Oh well!

Have a good one!

Moonshine & Waltzes

Last Saturday, R and I met up with one of his friends who was taking part in a civil war reenactment. It was held at an actual battleground during the war and, to me, was fascinating! I had never been to one and was envious of all the other girls in their gowns. His friend, C, is a wonderful medley of interests and talents. He’s almost like his own TV Guide. ESPN (former collegiate football player), BRAVO (he has launched his own line of ties —, STYLE (puts on fashion shows throughout KC), and HISTORY (is moving up the ranks within his infantry). I’m sure there’s more, but I didn’t have enough time to pick his brain.

Upon seeing the tents, I, of course, squealed with delight. For some reason, I didn’t realize that they actually camped there. I imagined the guys shooting off canons, riding some horses, falling dead, and then picking themselves up to walk straight to their car for home. So seeing these plain canvas & wood tents made my eyes light up, which in turn made R roll his.

The attention to detail was superb. In front of another tent, there was a teapot left sitting above a smoldering woodpile as if only moments ago soldiers were gathered ’round.

We arrived at the site right before the war was to “kick off” (as they say in army-speak). We started walking down a crowded hill at a deadly pace. The hill suddenly took a steep turn and by the end, we were practically running, dodging around people sitting calmly among the leaves….The whole time I never cracked a smile, hoping that people would connect my athleticism to the battle taking place and instead of being mad that I kicked leaves in their face as I went by, would nod after me with appreciation.

We watched about 20 minutes of the battle and then R got hungry. I tried to convince him that the soldiers were hungry too, and couldn’t we at least experience that? 30 seconds later we were scrambling back up the same steep hill towards the Meeting Hall.

Along the way, I saw some women cooking stew over an open flame and be-bopped my way over to them. The women camp separately from the men. But according to C, they run around in their little packs hosting tea parties and basically not fighting wars. I could do that. One woman showed me the inside of her tent and made sure to announce, while pointing to a heater, that no matter how much she loves the era, she is not going to die during a freezing night camping.

We chowed down some great chili and cornbread. In the meeting hall were two ladies standing around a piano. The third was hanging ornaments onto a tree. Note to self: Always string popcorn on a tree. Instant coziness. While R finished up my bowl of chili, I wandered over to one of the women. She had an assortment of items from way back when and I was particularly intrigued by the Lady’s Toolbelt. It came complete with a key, a thimble, a pin holder, and various other necessities. From someone who needs a Garmin just to find her keys in the morning…. I’m digging this idea.

Later, we went back to watch the rest of the battle and find C. I managed to catch a shot of a soldier falling off his horse unintentionally. Everyone whooped and hollered, but I don’t think he was thrilled watching his horse run off the field. At that point, I would have pretended to have been shot to save face. (Spoken like a true stage-mom.)

And then we spotted him! There he is!! Leading his team up the hill. I teased him on his quickness to be the first up and was rewarded with a grave description of his duties instead of laughter.

My first photo with a civil war officer. We later took him out for a few drinks to celebrate surviving the battle and that’s when he mentioned the dances. Every Saturday night, everyone meets at the hall to do period dances. Don’t you guys remember the dress I bought on eBay? Uh hello, it found a home. Civil war reenactments. R and I decided we’re going to try one out next summer and C offered to help us in our transition across centuries. Is it April yet?

Did I mention he had a tie line? (Great Christmas presents!)

Photo du jour

Everytime I see this sign for a new District Attorney, I immediately think, “Tim Gunn? Is Tim Gunn from Project Runway running for something in KS? Oh, it’s Guinn.” No, I literally have that same conversation with myself everyday. Although, now it is condensed a bit to: “Tim Gunn? No, Carolyn, it’s Guinn, remember?” and finally: “Tim Gu– no Carolyn.” And then I drive on.

P.S. I almost killed myself trying to take this pic.

Skitzo or Romantic? You be the judge.

To me, the dirtier the house the better.

I like the monochromatic color of this house, along with the narrow window. Overgrown bushes frame the doorstep. I could do that. Easy.
Here’s something you may not want to know about me, I’m obsessed with the past. Not even with anything that could be useful in Jeopardy, like dates & facts…But more with the day-dreamy side of it all. Take the first photo on here. That house is for sale and I want it. I found a website that specifically sells historical properties and my eye was instantly drawn to it. Why this one instead of the beautifully maintained, ornate mansion? Well, because this one is dirty with a half dead tree in front of it and no official driveway. Isn’t it obvious? Come to think of it, maybe I’m not so much in love with the past, but with the deterioration of time.

Despite my husband’s eye-rolling, I broke down and purchased a civil war gown on Ebay. It looks like a bad bridesmaid dress, but it was selling at a good price and I couldn’t resist it. I can’t wait to mow the yard in it. Wait, they didn’t have lawn mowers back then, so does that mean I don’t have to do it?
Daydream haters will always tell me, “but Carrie, do you know how bad it must have smelt back then?” or “you wouldn’t last a day without modern conveniences, like air conditioning or $5 Little Caesar pizzas.” Well you know what, daydream haters? I just now ate pizza in a rose-smelling, cold New York Brownstone while wearing a civil war dress. So, leave me alone.

The ironic part is that I got my first dose of reality from a dream. A few nights ago, I spent many hours in a post-civil war village. I was the newcomer and a villager was taking me around town, proudly showing off its latest additions to Main Street. In the town square, we came upon a few tables with large pots. Women were standing around stirring the stew-mixture and gossiping. When I arrived they gave me a spoonful to try. It tasted flavorful and I asked my guide what herbs were in it. He laughed and said, “oh, there are no herbs. the flavor comes from all the insects that land on the stew and get stirred in.” I blanched and immediately clicked my heels together. But then the next thing I knew, I was sitting on a horse-drawn wagon with my legs dangling off the back. People were filing out of a home and singing a civil war song and laughing…and I was right back into my romantic vision of life during this time.

Hours can slip by while I immerse myself in these thoughts. Coming-to is the hardest part. Other people can stick to their cocaine and heroine… daydreaming will always be my drug of choice.

photo du jour

During our garage sale, the jaw-dropping moment I realized my sister snuck in the bridesmaids shoes I bought her for my wedding. After some thought, I agreed that $2 was an honest selling price. Look how the sunlight just gleams off the design.

I think they ended up going to Goodwill.